Lewisham heart bypass patient who ‘couldn’t breathe properly’ in mouldy flat sues landlord for £7,000

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The 67-year-old, who was fitted with a pacemaker following previous triple heart bypass surgery, said his physical health was greatly affected due to the housing disrepair.

A Lewisham resident who claimed he struggled to breathe in his home which was overrun with toxic mould, has sued his landlord.

Peter Oakley, who has resided at his property for almost 25-years, became concerned when the fungus started creeping into his bedroom and quickly spread across nearly every room in his flat.

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The problems initially surfaced as minor black patches on the ceilings, but over time, they escalated into large areas of severe mould.

The 67-year-old, who was fitted with a pacemaker following previous triple heart bypass surgery, said his physical health was greatly affected due to the housing disrepair.

Peter Oakley, 67, claimed he struggled to breathe in his home which was overrun with toxic mould.Peter Oakley, 67, claimed he struggled to breathe in his home which was overrun with toxic mould.
Peter Oakley, 67, claimed he struggled to breathe in his home which was overrun with toxic mould. | Credit: Supplied

"It took only a couple of weeks for the ceiling to turn black, and there was a pervasive, unpleasant smell of dampness and mould around the house,” he said.

“It affected my health significantly. I couldn’t breathe and sleep properly, and there was one time when I couldn’t even drive my car out of the garage because I couldn’t take a breath. I had to seek immediate help."

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Mr Oakley’s bathroom had severe water stains and mould on the ceiling, which was reported when the issue first arose, then twice again over five years but was still left unresolved.

One bedroom had mould on the exterior wall, inside cupboards and along a rotten window ledge. He said the issues in the living room were reported numerously but were never adequately addressed despite council representatives visiting the house.

Mould on the ceiling in the bedroom of Mr Oakley’s homeMould on the ceiling in the bedroom of Mr Oakley’s home
Mould on the ceiling in the bedroom of Mr Oakley’s home | Credit: Supplied

The Lewisham resident constantly had to wash the smell of damp off his clothes which impacted his energy bills while also having to purchase new clothes more often than he could afford.

Mr Oakley had contacted Lewisham Homes, who manage the property on behalf of Lewisham Council, several times but the issue had remained unresolved.

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He eventually sought legal representation and sued Lewisham Homes, which settled out of court in February.

He was awarded £7,000 in damages and his home was repaired in June.

“Everything is repaired now and I’m glad it’s all clean, but my health issues are still there,” added Peter.

“I still struggle with my breathing. Sometimes I wake up at night because I can’t take a proper breath.

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“I want to thank Veritas Solicitors who were very supportive and helpful. I don’t know what I would have done without them.

“I’m just glad I’ve been able to get back to living in a normal house.”

Faraz Fazal, Managing Partner at Veritas Solicitors, said: “This case highlights the importance of taking action when faced with housing issues that impact a person’s well-being.

“We are pleased to have been able to secure a favourable outcome for our client and it is our belief that everyone deserves a safe and healthy living environment as a basic human right, and we will continue to fight such cases.”

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A Lewisham Homes spokesperson said:“Extensive repair work was completed in February to address the issues with Mr Oakley’s property. We apologise to Mr Oakley for any delay in carrying out these works and have acknowledged our failings in this case with a substantial compensation payment."

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